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"Marry me,"

Her eyes widened in pure shock, as she turned to face him. "Have you gone quite mad, sir?"

Her voice has somewhere between a whisper and an indignant shriek. Marry? What in Merlin's name was he on about?

He'd only just finished telling her how much of a bore she was. How insufferable she is. How he couldn't possibly spend another minute in the same room as her without losing it.

And he had, it seemed. Lost it, that is.

They'd just finished having another of their wall-shaking, ground-quaking, Earth-shattering rows. Before, the Headmistress would rush down to the dungeons to intervene, hearing from the students, no less, that the Potions' Master and his apprentice were having a right go at each other. Heated arguments, hexes on the tips of their tongues, vile and venomous words spat at each other relentlessly.

Minerva had long given up on the pair of them.

Severus was not to be reasoned with. And Hermione... Well, Hermione was far too stubborn for her own good.

What a pair those two made.

McGonagall had been hesitant in hiring her favourite cub. She was definitely intelligent enough to take on the task, that hadn't at all been the issue. It was the current teacher that posed a problem. He was terrible to work under. If having been his student proved to be as difficult as they claimed, she couldn't possibly imagine what it would be like to be his apprentice.

And Hermione, despite her strength, was so very fragile still.

She's come to Hogwarts, having nothing else. She was alone in the world.

And two years later, she was standing in the dungeons, tearing her hair out and screaming profanities at said Potions' Master.

Two long years under him. Studying, writing, observing, pushing herself to academic limits she didn't know were possible. He claimed she wasn't good enough, that she'd never be able to take over and that he was better off sticking around, after all.

Two years she'd devoted to him. To Hogwarts.

Two years she'd set aside and toiled through to prove herself to him.

How dare he tell her she wasn't competent?

She had saved the greasy git. He stood before her healthy as could be thanks to her.

They had never discussed that night. Never talked about the fact that she'd cried over his body, pouring draughts into his mouth, smearing what little Dittany she had left all over his wounds, shoving a bezoar as far down his throat as she could. Never once mentioned that he had awoken in the shrieking shack hours after the battle had ended with the young witch curled into his side, his neck bandaged and compressed, her hand gripping his.

She had thrown away her engagement for him. For this.

She had missed out on suppers with her friends and Christmases. She'd skipped birthdays and christenings, weddings and gatherings.

He had taken her entire life between his hands and thrown it to the wind. He had taken over every waking moment. 'Clean this, Miss Granger' and 'label that flagon' or 'take stock of the inventory'.

On the off chance they were getting along, they seldom spoke. Those rare moments were spent poring over a textbook, heads leaned in close together. Those few minutes were comfortably seated in his chambers, before the fire, each correcting a large stack of essays. What little time they could be in each other's company amicably, was spent with one asleep and the other picking up wayward papers and teacups strewn about the room.

She had accompanied him to every ball and every supper, every Ministry event and every meeting. Ron hadn't liked it, though accepted it was the way things had to be, at first. But then he'd become jealous, following the tabloids and the vile garbage Rita Skeeter posted in her awful section of the Prophet.

And he'd left a miserable, sobbing, and bereft Hermione Granger to run into the arms of the only person who stood by her, despite their animosity.

And he was, there for her, of course. He'd gone with her to all the funerals in the very beginning. He always went shopping with her when it came time for another ball or ceremony, knowing she dreaded trying on all the dresses on her own. He had agreed to have her move into a spare room in his personal chambers, let her run to him in the dark of the night when the terrors would wake her. He wrote to her in the summer months, allowed her to show up on his doorstep at any and all hours if she needed it.

Which she often did.

'Misery loves company'. One would often say to the other.

They never talked about the war, despite her having been very much present at his long and seemingly unending trial. She had given a very thorough testimony alongside Harry Potter's and Minerva's. She stood by him throughout the entire ordeal.

Harry had eventually lost contact with her, focusing on his family and Auror training. At least, that was what he had told her. What she told herself. She suspected it had a great deal to do with the Weasleys cutting all contact with her for siding with Snape after everything that happened.

She stared at him then, standing across from her defensively, his hand reaching for his wand, no doubt. She smirked. Good. He hadn't lost the sense that she'd hex him if she was angry enough. One only made that mistake once. She was certain she looked a right mess. Her hair was frazzled, currents of magic coursing through it, sparking at the ends of her curls. Her face was flushed, she could feel it burning. Her jaw was tightly clenched, as were her fists.

But him... He looked as calm and cool and collected as he always did. No... There was something different, there was a softness in his eyes. A gentle kindness that lay there, behind the anger and frustration. How long had it been there?

How had she never noticed it before?

Merlin, she knew him better than anyone, how had this never occurred to her before?

She straightened out, relaxing her stance, frowning to herself.

He stood up slowly, rolling back his shoulders. His imposing height returning in full. His hands were empty, no wand in sight. He was trusting her.

She met his gaze, shaking her head. "You're mad, you know. Absolutely mental,"

His lips lifted for a moment before disappearing. He opened his arms, beckoning her toward him. She slipped between them easily, leaning her head on his shoulder, her nose buried in the crook of his neck. He chuckled lightly. "Am I?"

She took a step back, looking into his face. By some force outside her control, she took his face in her hands, and placed her mouth on his.

She wasn't sure what it had been that pushed her to do it, except perhaps some sort of ancient magic. One that couldn't be harnessed and controlled. One that acted of it's own accord. Intuition. That gut feeling.

His hands were on her, she was very aware of that. One hand at the base of her spine, the other twisting in her hair, pulling her to him as he ravished her. Lips, and tongues, and teeth, and hurried breaths. Oh gods, it was so right.

And so wrong. What in Merlin's name was she doing? What was she thinking, snogging her teacher like that?

She didn't care enough to give it much more thought. All that mattered was the very real need to taste every part of him. The need to have all his kisses to herself, to be in his arms for as long as he'd be willing to hold her.

She'd be the death of him. This fiery little witch in his arms. Gods, how he had ached for her. How he had wanted to have her. To tell her.

How long they had both been feeling this way, neither knew. Neither cared, as he left her mouth for some much needed air, leaving her gasping as he lowered to her throat. Hot, open-mouthed kisses trailed along from the base of her ear to the top of her shoulder.

Utter insanity, this was.

She struggled for air, breathing unsteadily, her fingers digging into his shoulders. "Entirely so, I'm afraid," she breathed. "Let's do it, get married, what have we to lose?"

Complete craziness.

He smiled, catching her lips again. This time gently. "I had hoped you would agree,"

Blissful madness.